Switchback Brewing Company is under new ownership: its employees.
The Burlington craft beer company announced Wednesday that co-founders Bill Cherry and Jeff Neiblum sold the company to Switchback’s employees for an undisclosed amount. Cherry will continue in his role managing the day-to-day operations of the company. He said in an interview that he doesn’t expect the transfer of ownership to change the company much.
“The whole point of this is to keep going as we've been going and to be able to do that,” Cherry said. “That, to me, was always one of the negatives to if you sell out, whether it's to a venture capitalist or a big company or whatever is. They're going to expect a certain amount of growth and 'Let's go national, let's do this,' and we've always envisioned ourselves as a regional brewery.”
Cherry said the sale came about as he began to look ahead to retirement. Part of his decision to make a change came from what he observed at other craft breweries.
“Their owners hit this point when they retire, going ‘I didn’t even think about what to do with the brewery in the future,’” Cherry said. “And seeing that, I started thinking about it now, and all the feedback I got from folks was ‘The sooner you do it, the easier it will be.’ And that’s really what this step was, was to say, ‘We can make this really cool transition now.' And I get to keep doing my job for another 15 years, but I’ve already settled what’s going to happen to the company.”
Cherry said Switchback fosters a collaborative approach and the employees are already very dedicated to the company and its beer, so employee ownership felt like a good fit.